James Donio is President of the Music Business Association (Music Biz). Since becoming President in 2004, Donio has evolved the organization from one primarily focused on physical retailing to a fully inclusive trade association that represents the breadth of the commerce, content and creative segments of the industry. The expanding membership includes not only Board-level representation from companies such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Pandora, Spotify, and Google/YouTube, but also individual professionals, academic institutions and students. Donio has revitalized Music Biz’s Annual Conference, making it the definitive gathering for more than 2,000 attendees spanning the breadth of the business of music. The event has been held in Nashville for the past four years and is booked to remain there through 2020. Donio has worked to expand Music Biz’s event offerings beyond the Annual Conference, including the Entertainment & Technology Law Conference Series, the NY:LON Global Music Business Development Summit, and the Common Ground Webinar Series on a diverse variety of topics of interest in the industry.
Donio has worked on collaborative industry campaigns to inspire music sales since he first joined the organization in 1988. Music Biz has partnered with every music awards show, from the GRAMMYs® to the Country Music Awards. In 2007, the association teamed up with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to create the “Definitive 200,” a ranked list of the 200 albums that should be in every music collection. Music Biz is also a sponsor of Record Store Day, a global music store celebration that has been held the third Saturday in April since 2007. Record Store Day brings together independently-owned music stores, labels and artists to highlight the commercial and cultural contributions these businesses make to their communities with exclusive releases and live in-store performances.
Donio also finds time to participate in other industry events. He has keynoted at the TM Forum’s Management World Americas, and has been a panelist at MediaTech’s Future of Packaged Media, Digital Music Forum East, Making Vinyl, the Jazz Connect Conference, and the Americana Music Festival & Conference. For the past five years, he has been an Adjunct Professor in NJ-based Monmouth University’s Applied Music Business Program where he teaches “Introduction to the Music Business Ecosystem.” He has guest lectured at NYU’s Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, Drexel University and William Paterson University.
Donio has worked his way up through Music Biz for the past three decades, since joining the organization as Director of Creative Services for what was then known as the National Association of Recording Merchandisers. In 1991, he added PR and marketing functions to his resume and was promoted to the position of Communications Director. In 1995, he took on oversight of Music Biz’s events as Vice President of Communications & Events. In 2000, he was elevated to Executive Vice President, adding most of the organization’s day-to-day administrative and operational responsibilities, before assuming the top job in 2004. Prior to joining Music Biz, Donio held a variety of editorial, PR and event-related positions for the Association of Information Systems Professionals (AISP), an international individual membership organization focused on the needs of office systems professionals.
A Philadelphia native, Donio earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Temple University. He has been involved in the city’s Mummers Parade, a January 1 tradition in the city, since his teens and has supported the Mummers Museum since it opened in 1976. This folk tradition, one of the oldest in the country, celebrates the New Year with elaborately costumed participants, music and dancing. Donio has participated in a variety of ways, including as a musician, costume designer, choreographer, and television commentator. He won a local Emmy Award in 1986 for Outstanding Cultural Programming for being part of a special broadcast entitled “Mummer Mania.” Donio has acted professionally, and if you look closely, you can see him in such movies as Mannequin and Stealing Home. The first album he recalls receiving as a gift for his 10th birthday in 1966 was Meet the Monkees. So it was especially momentous when he presented a Music Biz Outstanding Achievement Award to band members Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork on the occasion of their Golden Anniversary together in 2016 — some 50 years after he received that album.